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Councillors set to scrutinise controversial changes to disabled work opportunities

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Monday, Apr 15th, 2019.

Councillors are set to scrutinise a controversial set of changes to work opportunities for disabled people.

Wrexham Council’s executive board members voted to shut Le Cafe and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) in Rhosddu, as well as the Coverall laundry in Rhosymedre during an ill-tempered meeting last year, it was also approved to find another organisation to provide the cafe service at Alyn Waters Country Park in Gwersyllt, which has been taken over by Groundwork North Wales.

The three businesses were closed despite some councillors claiming there was insufficient information about the replacement service for the 36 disabled people affected by the changes.

The authority is now set to provide an update on work opportunities being provided for those impacted at a meeting this week.

Councillor Joan Lowe, lead member for health and adult social care, said she hoped to provide assurance that disabled people are continuing to receive a ‘quality service’.

She said: “The focus has been promoting independence, promoting community participation, offering choice and control to individuals.

“People are experiencing new things and trying a range of participation opportunities to help them make choices for their future.

“The implementation has been planned with individuals in a way that reflects their needs and at a pace that they can manage.

“This has progressed well and many of the individuals involved in phase one projects have been supported to move into new opportunities in community, business, and leisure and learning areas.

“Examples include volunteering opportunities in Ty Pawb, the library, leisure centre, shops, a care home, a laundry service as well as many opportunities to participate in activities and groups such as swimming, cycling, art and drama.”

In regards to the cafe at Alyn Waters, she said the lease had been awarded to Groundwork for a seven year period.

She added that the adult social care department was working closely with the new provider to ensure a ‘smooth transition’ for 10 disabled people who work there.

Meanwhile, the authority is currently reviewing the future of the Cunliffe Enablement Centre and Erlas Walled Garden Project.

An estimated saving of £334,000 has been earmarked in connection with the proposals.

Cllr Lowe said: “Reviewing and redesigning day and work opportunities and making decisions on future provision is being undertaken using co-production approaches to ensure future support is delivered in a way that promotes individual independence and avoids over provision of support.

“The model going forward is intended to deliver person centred services, increasing choice and control, be locally provided, flexible and sustainable.

“Throughout this process, people we support have been clearly expressing what they want to achieve and their preferences and we are continuing to support new and exciting opportunities for community participation that can help people achieve their outcomes.”

Members of the council’s safeguarding, communities and wellbeing scrutiny committee will examine the changes at a meeting on Wednesday.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).

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